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LOCAL BOOK REVIEW

“Ghost Wars – The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001”

By Steve Coll, The Penguin Press, 2004

“Ghost Wars’ answers the questions we all have asked since 9/11: What did America’s intelligence operatives know about the rising threat from Islamist radicals? Who tried to stop Osama bin Laden and why did they fail?



For nearly 25 years, Afghanistan has been the arena for operations by U.S. and foreign intelligence agencies – invisible wars that planted the seeds of the Sept. 11 attacks. From the Soviet invasion through the summer of 2001, the CIA, KGB, Pakistan’s ISI, and Saudi Arabia’s Intelligence Department operated directly and secretly in Afghanistan. They plied Afghan factions with cash and weapons, trained guerrilla forces, and manipulated politics as bin Laden created his al Qaida organization.

Steve Coll tells the history of the CIA’s role in Afghanistan and its secret program against the Soviet troops. He examines the rise of the Taliban, the emergence of bin Laden, and the CIA’s efforts to capture or kill him. Based on firsthand accounts, “Ghost Wars” is the inside story on U.S. involvement in Afghanistan.




Coll has been with The Washington Post since 1985. He worked in Afghanistan and Pakistan as the Post’s South Asia bureau chief between 1989 and 1992.

– William J. Clark

Grass Valley


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